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Australia breaks 4X200 freestyle relay record

Night of thrilling races brings new names to the medal podium
July 27,2019
Team Australia gathers after winning the women’s 4X200 meter freestyle relay final, breaking the world record in the event at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju on Thursday evening. [YONHAP]
Team Australia set a new world record to win the women’s 4X200 meter freestyle relay at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center, ending the dominance of the United States in the event.

Racing in the fourth lane, Australia got off to a great start as Ariarne Titmus gave the team the lead after her 200 meters, at one minute and 54.27 seconds. Yet Madison Wilson’s one minute 56.73 seconds wasn’t enough for Australia to hold on to its lead, as the second swimmer of the United States, Katie Ledecky, finished her 200 meters in one minute and 54.61 seconds to allow the team to take the lead by 0.30 seconds.

But Australia quickly regained its lead with its third swimmer, Brianna Throssell. Following Throssell, Australia’s last swimmer, Emma McKeon, kept up the team’s lead to finish the race at seven minutes and 41.50 seconds, good enough to break the world record.

The previous world record was set by China, at seven minutes and 42.08 seconds, during the 2009 World Championships in Rome. In addition to setting a new world record, Australia’s victory is even more impressive, as the United States had been dominating the event since the 2011 World Championships.

This is the third world record set in Gwangju. Caeleb Dressel of the United States continued his successful streak in Gwangju by picking up his third gold in the men’s 100 meter freestyle.

Racing in the fourth lane, Dressel got off to a strong start by taking the lead at the first 50-meter point, at 22.29 seconds. He continued to maintain his lead in the remaining 50 meters to finish 0.12 second ahead of the silver medalist, at 46.96 seconds.

With the win, Dressel became the first swimmer to win three golds in Gwangju. This win also allowed Dressel to successfully defend his title in the event. In Gwangju, he won gold in men’s 50 meter butterfly and the men’s 4X100 meter relay, while picking up a silver in the mixed 4X100 meter medley relay.

Kyle Chalmers of Australia won silver by finishing his race in 47.08 seconds followed by Vladislav Grinev of Russia winning bronze by finishing his race in 47.82 seconds.

Boglarka Kapas picked up her first gold by winning the women’s 200 meter butterfly.

Racing in the third lane, Kapas got off to a slow start by reaching the first 50-meter mark at 29.27 seconds, ranking eighth. After continuing to rank in eighth by the 100-meter point, Kapas started to speed up in her last 100 meters of the race. Reaching the 150-meter point at one minute and 33.67 seconds, ranking fourth, Kapas picked up her pace once more to finish her race at two minutes and 06.78 seconds.

With the win, Kapas picked up her first-ever gold at the World Championships and became the first Hungarian swimmer to win the women’s 200 meter butterfly at the World Championships. Before winning gold in Gwangju, Kapas’s best finish at the World Championships was winning bronze in the women’s 1,500 meter freestyle in 2015 in Kazan.

Hali Flickinger of the United States won silver by finishing her race in two minutes and 6.95 seconds followed by Katie Drabot of the United States winning bronze by finishing her race in two minutes and 7.04 seconds.

In the women’s 50 meter breaststroke, Olivia Smoliga of the United States picked up gold. Despite having the second-slowest reaction time of 0.63 seconds, Smoliga sprinted in the short-distance race to finish 0.11 second ahead of the silver medalist, at 27.33 seconds.

With the win, Smoliga picked up her second medal in Gwangju. Previously, she won a bronze in women’s 100 meter backstroke.

Defending champion Etiene Medeiros of Brazil won silver by finishing her race at 27.44 seconds followed by Daria Vaskina of Russia winning bronze, at 27.51 seconds.

Continuing the night, Daiya Seto of Japan won the men’s 200 meter individual medley.

Racing in the third lane, Seto reached the first 50-meter point in second, at 24.89 seconds, with the butterfly. Then, he moved up to take the lead with his second stroke, backstroke, reaching the halfway point of the race at 54.19 seconds.

Swimming breaststroke and freestyle for the next 100 meters of the race, Seto successfully maintained his lead until the end of the race for gold, clocking in at one minute and 56.14 seconds. By winning gold, Seto picked up his first gold in the men’s 200 meter individual medley, and became the first Japanese swimmer to do so.

Seto won two golds in the men’s 400 meter medley during the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, but has never won the 200 meter individual medley.

Jérémy Desplanches of Switzerland won silver by finishing his race in one minute and 56.56 seconds, followed by Chase Kalisz of the United States winning bronze by finishing his race in one minute and 56.78 seconds.

BY KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]